“Mystic Stylez:” Deuce 7 + Friends
Deuce 7 is a prolific street artist from the Midwest whose work you’ve probably seen even if you aren’t familiar with his name. He’s got something of a following with people who follow street art but also maintains a low profile and there’s definitely an air of mystery surrounding him. This is probably appropriate given the hit and run tactics required of the form. Deuce 7 seems to want to avoid conflict and erasures: he often chooses buildings slated for demolition, concrete barriers and other surfaces that don’t have proprietary owners. Deuce 7 represents the breed of street art that is more image-based than typographical. He also stands apart because he works with a broader range of techniques and materials in addition to traditional spray paint.
Deuce has a sophisticated linear style that combines decorative tracery applied with a brush over sprayed backgrounds. Emerging from this are figurative forms that include insect-like, humanoid aliens. The humanoid figures confront us head-on and seem to coagulate from a matrix of thin, fluid lines. While these are clearly executed quickly they are also very complex and elegant images in a style that is immediately recognizable and doesn’t rely on a tag for identity.
Train imagery is also recurring theme in his work. He is said to travel by train using the old school method of jumping boxcars. Deuce’s trains are typically nineteenth century steam locomotives drawn in a style that at once references antique maps and decorative motifs but is also clearly contemporary. The result calls to mind steam punk but it is more personal and idiosyncratic.
The exhibit also featured work by some of Deuce 7’s friends including, Tomas VIllasenor, Peyote, Charlie Marks, Faro, Danya Von Shank, Joinz and Baser. Outstanding were oversized faces executed on paper using thin, obsessive brush strokes. The expressions on the faces are melting in what feels like a drug-induced stupor. Disembodied vignettes emerge from the hatch work of lines suggesting thoughts, dreams, and fantasies playing out within the minds of the faces. Each piece, suspended by binder clips, has an air of an obsessive-compulsive artifact and calls to mind coloring books that schizophrenics use to stay calm and focused. In the end, the melted faces conjure a semi-psychotic state, alternately tortured and placated under the transitory effects of drugs and emotional turmoil.
Bringing art from the streets into a gallery space is a dicey affair that raises lots of interesting questions about context and value. After all, street art can’t be bought or sold. Once it has been brought inside does it become just another object for sale? But, as far as gallery spaces go, Secret Project Robot is as close to an ideal setting for this work as you’re likely to find. While it is an art space, the owners are more interested in using art as a rationale for events and parties than for selling objects. Their website describes its purpose as “to pursue something other than money…” and they are proud of the fact that all the people working there have day jobs. How long that approach lasts may be a real indicator of our times.
Secret Project Robot 210 Kent Ave Brooklyn, NY, 11211
Call ahead for hours: 917.860.8282